Posts Tagged ‘New York’

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Kerry Wood

Wood back Wood front

I must admit that I’ve always scoffed at Kerry Wood — especially when he came to the big boy league. However, when he was traded to the New York Yankees and I pulled the above card, I simply had to write about him.

In baseball, there are revered names — one of the biggest in George Herman Ruth – otherwise known as the Babe and a litany of other sandlot nicknames. Outside of boozing and chasing skirts, if you are linked to the Babe you are linked to baseball immortality. Quite simply, legends never die.

Anyway, it was shocking to me that, in the history of baseball, Wood and Ruth are the only two players with at least 1,200 innings while allowing fewer than 1,000 hits. Of course, like Wood’s career, all good things must come to an end. If you look at the card closely, you’ll realize that Wood finished the 2009 season with 995 hits allowed. And sure enough, he allowed a few more hits this year to inch over the 1,000 threshold to give the Babe back another solo record.

Regardless, Wood was a real good pitcher for a few years – the heir apparent to Roger Clemens who was the heir apparent to Nolan Ryan. In three of his first five healthy seasons in the majors, Wood had a K/9 rate in double digits. In the 2002 and 2003 seasons, Wood would post a 3.34 ERA, 483 Ks and a 1.22 WHIP. Not bad.

Will his career resemble a glorified Kelvim Escobar? Sort of – but so what. For a couple of years he was absolutely unhittable and he happened to share a record with one of the most hallowed names in all of sports.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: CJ Wilson

CJ Wilson backCJ Wilson frontTypically I poke fun at the inaccuracies, poor grammar and just weirdness on the backs of these cards. However, I can’t do that with C.J. Wilson’s – it is that spot on.

Wilson has a phenomenal twitter and blog presence. He has also done a ton of stuff with the creators of Lost – a show that got as esoteric as any show in history. He is also into racing. By the way, I wrote this entire paragraph from memory – that is how (scarily) well I know Wilson.

Well whatever Wilson is doing, I’m cool with it. He was a pretty out-of-this world reliever last year – way beyond LOOGY status. He pitched 73.2 innings and posted a 10.26 K/9 rate. He actually had a better K/9 rate against righties (10.96) than lefties (9.11). Adding those innings, k-rate and ability to work against righties and lefties made him a super valuable reliever in 2009.

But that wasn’t enough.

In 2010, C.J. would transition to starting. How would that go? He’d pitch 199 innings, post a 7.51 k-rate and a 3.35 ERA. Sure he benefited slightly from a .271 BAbip and a lower HR/FB% than he normally does, but we’re still looking at a 3.60 FIP guy.

In short, C.J. is one of (if not the most) interesting starters in all of baseball. Hat tip to Topps for identifying the interesting aspects of Wilson in his 2010 card.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Paul Zuvella

For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

Paul Zuvella back 1987 Paul Zuvella front 1987

Zuvella seems to be the typical 1980s utility man, i.e. light-hitting. In addition to short stop, he logged games at every infield position. As the term utility man would suggest, Zuvella was kind of a catch-all, even, apparently, in his personal life as he enjoys reading, watching movies and playing chess.

What most fascinates me is that he has a musical last name and enjoys playing music. If only he were an active major leaguer this summer when the vuvuzelas ruled! It’d be funny for me to see the Yankees ban them but allow Zuvella to still play! Or, at the least, the club could make an exception so that Zuvella would approach the plate to the tune of crescendo-ing vuvuzelas.

There could also be whole sections of fans called Zuvella’s Vuvuzelas – like the Padilla Flotilla.

Alas, Zuvella would hit just .122 in 35 games as a Yankee. In addition to this card, we will, only slightly, remember him as a minor part of a trade that sent Ken Griffey, Sr. to the Atlanta Braves.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Don Mattingly

For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

Mattingly - 1987 BackMattingly - 1987 Front

I’m sorry about all the New York corner infielders, but this one was too bizarre to pass up!

Do an internet search for ‘Don Mattingly birthday’ and you get April 20, 1961. Baseball Reference also has him as being born in 1961.

So how did he get away with this, while Miguel Tejada and others have been caught? I guess it doesn’t matter if it is only one year and the supposed official birth year makes him older, right?

Regardless, Mattingly put together a brilliant first three seasons of a career. Look at all those italics! Unfortunately, he would never lead the league in anything after this card was printed. My baseball consciousness wasn’t fully alive until the early 1990s and, at that point, Mattingly was an old fogey with achy knees. Of course, that old fogey posted a .397 OBP at age 33 in 1994. Or maybe he was really only 32 when he was taking all those pitches?

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h2h Corner ~ Keep, Trade or Drop Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira?

Welcome to the latest edition of the game show currently sweeping the Internet. Reading this column guarantees that you will achieve fabulous wealth and success in your fantasy baseball league. That’s right, you guessed it: it’s time to debate Keep Trade or Drop (KTD). Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Javy Vazquez to the Yanks…oh no.

Most of my readers can attest to the love I had for Javy Vazquez before the 2009 season. As his numbers indicate, my love was well rewarded. My guy-love had reached such magnitudes, in fact, that I was thinking of keeping him in the ninth round of my most important league – a league where I usually draft batters in at least nine of the first 10 rounds.

Unfortunately, Frank Wren has screwed me again. Somehow, someway, I now hate the Yankees and the Braves even more. I honestly didn’t think this was possible. Seriously though, Melky Cabrera? C’mon!

But enough of my rants, you want to know how this deal affects the fantasy values of those involved. From this perspective, there are two players you should be thinking about: Javy Vazquez and Melky Cabrera.

Javy Vazquez

At first blush, it would seem that Javy Vazquez’s fantasy value will plummet like 2009’s housing marketing. Moving from the NL to AL; moving from Atlanta to New York; moving from a decent pitcher’s park to a homerun haven; etc… I had just begun to do my pitcher rankings for next year and Vazquez was making a legitimate case to be a top 5 pitcher. That will no longer be the case. To illustrate:

Pitcher Yin: 1,664.1 IPs, 1,506 Ks, 4.02 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 110 ERA+, 8.1 K/9, 1.1 HR/9
Pitcher Yang: 852.2 IPs, 747 Ks, 4.52 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 102 ERA+, 8.1 K/9, 1.2 HR/9.

Yin = NL Javy Vazquez, Yang = AL Javy Vazquez. The similarity between those numbers is surprising (or not, given they are the same person). From these numbers, it is clear Vazquez has been better in the National League, but not demonstrably better. However, there are two caveats – his two worst seasons were his first two seasons when he played for the Montreal Expos (where his K/9 rate never exceeded 7.3). The only time that rate was much lower was in 2004 (6.8) – oddly enough, when he pitched for the Yankees and made his only All-star Game. If you take out Vazquez’ first two seasons, his NL-only line looks like: 2,163 IPs, 3.98 ERA, 2,001 Ks, 113 ERA+ 1.22 WHIP, 1.1 HR/9 and 8.3 K/9. Not much better than his total NL numbers, but, still better.

Throughout his career, Vazquez has been incredibly durable – his lowest inning total since 2000 was 198 (while pitching for the Yankees). Since 2004, he has averaged 196 Ks a season, with his lowest total being 150 in 2004, also for the Yankees.

Despite the near across the board drop in his overall numbers, there is nothing to suggest that Vazquez was terribly unlucky in 2004. In fact, his BAbip was .274. Though his overall BAbip is in line with his career norms, Vazquez’s 2004 season was an exercise in the ups and downs common for many major league pitchers. The first half of his season was excellent (explaining his All-Star selection): 3.56 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 1.15 WHIP. As good as his first half was, his second half was equally disastrous: 6.92 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 1.49 WHIP. Looking behind the numbers, however, the reason for the great disparity in his two halves is clear. In the first half, his BAbip was .253. When his BAbip corrected itself in the second half (.303), his success disappeared.

This has been a long rambling numbers-oriented analysis – and it doesn’t appear the numbers have provided much of a conclusion. So, here goes: Vazquez’ preseason fantasy value takes a sizeable dip because of this trade. When you are drafting pitchers, the fewer question marks the better. This trade introduces a number of new question marks that did not exist with Vazquez yesterday (but did exist with him in 2004 when the Yankees shipped him to Arizona after the season). Vazquez can pitch and he will strike batters out, but can he do it as consistently as he did last season as a Brave, without a pitcher in the line-up?

I’m saying no.

This doesn’t mean Vazquez is unownable or useless; it does mean that he probably won’t crack my top 20 pitchers and should be more of mid round selection. If you are a gambling man, roll the dice and snag him a few rounds before his ADP. Off the cuff, I see his ADP being around guys like Josh Johnson, Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Garza and Chad Billingsley. All things being equal, I’d take the upside/league of Johnson and Billingsley over Vazquez, but take Vazquez’ strikeouts over Garza and Wandy’s fragility.

Melky Cabrera

Cabrera goes from a homer-friendly outfield to a murky bigger outfield. He should, initially, get consistent playing time. Despite the trade, Cabrera is not completely locked into a starting job; be mindful of Jason Heyward. Still, it’s not like the Braves have tremendous outfielders as Matt Diaz is more of a platoon-able guy than a starter. The job, more likely than not, is Cabrera’s to lose.

Initially, I ranked Cabrera around outfielders like Chase Headley, Seth Smith, David DeJesus, and Marlon Byrd. In the AL, Cabrera has managed a .331 OBP, .385 SLG and .716 OPS. He has also managed to steal 44/58 bases (75 percent). This success should give him a longer leash in Atlanta. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Cabrera becomes a 12 HR, 20 SB player. There is a lot of value in that. Oddly enough, when you look at players historically who had similar statistics at this point in their career, Cabrera compares favorably to Johnny Damon and Jose Guillen.

Cabrera should be on people’s radars more than normal this year, as a potential top 18 round pick. Though if he doesn’t win a starting position, be prepared to cut bait early.